Acquiring iPhones as new residents of France.
October 22, 2008 5:32 AM   Subscribe

Best options for a expatriate living in Paris who wants an iPhone? Lack of French language experience making it difficult. (French residents/speakers take a look please!)

I am heading out to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées' Orange store later today to purchase two iPhones (one for myself and one for my girlfriend). We were there earlier this week and it seemed like the man who helped us was trying to take advantage of our lack of French language knowledge. He was trying to have us sign up for an extremely expensive plan and then call to switch it at the end of the month. I didn't feel good about the whole thing so we left and came back later.

I looked online at the various plans offered and they seem to pale in comparison to what I got with AT&T in the United States. For 300 minutes with unlimited SMS/calls on nights and weekends it seems to be 80€/month per line. That's all the information I could retrieve from the french orange website.

Could the French speakers/residents of askmefi give me some help in choosing a plan? What do you recommend for two new residents of France for the iPhone? I don't even know if they have family plans available or an option so we can call each other for free.

Thanks in advance
posted by swhitt to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You may want to try calling Orange. We purchased pre-paid minutes from them in France. When we called them, we kept asking for an English speaker, we were hung up on twice, but eventually we got transferred to someone who could help us.
posted by pokeedog at 5:49 AM on October 22, 2008

I don't live in France anymore, but due to the way Apple works with the telephone companies, you're unlikely to find better deals elsewhere. Also, having sold phones while in university, don't ever trust an european phone salesperson. Buy it from the website.
posted by dhoe at 5:54 AM on October 22, 2008

.pdf of a tarif guide to iPhone packages with Orange in French

There are options for €49 - €149 / month available.

If you take a 12 month rather than 24 month contract you'll pay €4.50 / month more.

At each level you get the follwing:

Xh + Xh soir et week end is the number of off-peak calls to French landlines and mobiles you get per month.

X SMS is the number of free text messages

With the lowest 3 tarif plans you get 10 hours / month free connection to public Orange wifi spots. With the highest 2 you get 100 hours. You can find a list of Orange wireless hotspots here.

With all levels you get unlimited internet use (conditions - unlimited use in Metropolitan France, usage in modem mode, for newsgroups, VOIP and P2P is forbidden). Orange may invoke a fair usage policy of 500mb / month bandwidth cap.)

You get unlimited emails send in "push" mode (with Microsofot Exchange Active Sync), whatever that means . . .

The price per minute for calls to French landline and mobile numbers outside of your free time is €0.37

That's the general gist of it. But be very wary of the sales persons. Parisian's attitude to English only speakers is legendarily arsey . . . You might be well off to print out that tarif sheet and go in armed with that.

French mobile phone tarifs and pay plans are generally surprisingly expensive, at least I found that when I moved here from the UK.

If you want further help finding stuff on Orange's website, or deciphering anything else, drop me a Memail.

Bonne chance!
posted by protorp at 6:14 AM on October 22, 2008

Oh and as far as I can see these are the only tarifs you can get, you won't get family options for free calls.
posted by protorp at 6:15 AM on October 22, 2008

And once more rereading your original post, note that you DON'T get unlimited calls and SMS on evenings and weekend, only the extra call hours allowance for each tarif.
posted by protorp at 6:25 AM on October 22, 2008

yeah, none of this looks like a bargain to me (British, not a smartphone owner). Doesn't France have Carphone Warehouse? (I'm fairly sure they do, I'm fairly sure I've seen it; a phone shop that sells phones for all the networks not just one, you're more likely to easily identify the best deals there) (yes, it's called Phone House. And it has exactly the same tariffs as the Orange brochure, oh well).

Can someone with better French than me clarify whether those are anytime minutes or off-peak only? Because off-peak only would be a bit rubbish.

I have friends who like their iphones very much. I also have friends who like their samsung omnias just as much, but have cheaper tariffs. Unless you really, really want the iphones, this may be something worth considering.
posted by Lebannen at 7:08 AM on October 22, 2008

Response by poster: Protorp, thanks for your help. What about the oragami star packages located here? I think those might be a better option, but I can't really read the fine print or understand a lot of the main page :)
posted by swhitt at 7:15 AM on October 22, 2008

Response by poster: Another link I noticed but could not really understand was the benefits afforded to people under 26 years old. The link is here. Is that something that we can add to the oragami star limited plans? I'm still very confused :-/
posted by swhitt at 7:20 AM on October 22, 2008

Best answer: Lebannen, for the XH + XH tarifs the first X is the number of anytime minutes, the second X is the number of off peak only minutes on top of this. Per month total - like I said, French mobile rates are very pricey compared to what you can get in the UK . . .

swhitt, the origami options do start to look a bit better, they give you:

2h + 2h is 2 hours anytime + 2 hours off peak minutes to mobiles and landlines as above

3h or 5h give you, I think, 3 or 5 hours anytime plus unlimited off peak (2000 - 0800 weekdays, all day weekends, 3h max per call, max 200 different numbers to be called per month)

Unlimited off peak SMS

Unlimited internet and email with same conditions as my first post

10h access to the Orange wifi spots

You can only get the under 26 offer on the Origami star iPhone 2h + 2h tarif, with a 24 month minimum contract. You can either get 10% off your monthly contract, or unlimited SMS within France.

One other thing to mention (probably should have thought of this earlier) is that you may need more paperwork than you might imagine possible to get signed up - I odn't know your situation in Paris but I would take everything you can from passport, bank statement, tenancy agreement, utility bill etc. etc. Hoorah for French bureaucracy . . . it keeps half the country employed!

Anyway, hope it goes well.
posted by protorp at 2:08 PM on October 22, 2008

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